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A life time ago, I took a quarter of Russian while at community college. I may not remember much beyond the first seven letters of the alphabet, and a few random words, but I did enjoy that quarter.
One of the best parts of learning a new alphabet was learning the names and sounds of new letters and accent marks. I may not have any idea of how or when to use it, but I still walk around saying Мягкий Знак, which is a “soft” mark, to myself just because it is fun sounding.
A different Russian letter has been on my mind lately, the Щ. According to my old text book, this letter sounds like a double “shsh,” as in fresh sheets. It was some Saturday in early November, as I put my freshly washed sheets back on my bed, that this Russian letter came back to my mind. You see, in that moment, I realized I’d been doing something slightly odd, for me anyway, since September.
For at least two months, I’d been pulling these particular sheets off my bed, washing them, and putting them back on the bed in the same day. Not earth shaking behavior, but different from my typical routine of pulling sheets off the bed, putting new ones on, and then eventually washing the old ones. I like a newly made bed, and I especially like variety. Though not everyone will see them, a new set of sheets on the bed helps me feel like I’ve redecorated just a bit; so I often change my sheets, mix up sets with patterns and coordinating solids, because it makes a room feel a little new to me. Keeping the same set of sheets on the bed for over two months, even through washings, not my usual behavior.
As you can imagine, these sheets were special. It’s not their fabric or thread count, these sheets are special because they came unexpectedly. As August ended and September began, and everything in my life changed in a week, Dr. Lawyer-Author (or Dr. LA as we’ll call her) was a lifeline for me. I’d call with legal questions, end up a blubbering mess, and she would put me back together and help me find the answers I needed, and in the midst of everything, she sent me a care package. Ouiser’d sent me all the music I could need for this transition, and a lifetime membership to the Total Badass Club. My name may have changed, but it’s still valid. Dr. LA, sent me a care package of things I would definitely need, like a journal and wonderful yarn I was only allowed to use for myself, and this set of sheets. The sheets simply said, “New sheets for a fresh start.”
I chuckled a little to myself, “Only Dr. LA would put sheets in a care package.” But, I washed them put them on my bed, and a couple of months later finally understood. The rest of this house, even as I slowly deep clean, pack away, and rearrange things, remains something cobbled together by the DH and I. The Cuba travel poster that hangs in the kitchen, we picked together. The coffee and end tables in the living room, he picked out. Certainly, I’ve started adding my own touches … the cork boards of postcards hanging next to the Cuba poster, the new shower curtain I adore, but for a long time those sheets were the first; the first things of my own on this new journey.
They also represent the most important element of this transition, my friends. Through out this black hole of a year, it has been my friends, specifically my girl friends, who have seen me through. Dr. LA, Ouiser, Dr. Phoenix, new friends yet to be named, and old friends who popped back into my life, they gave me the strength, the resources, and courage to do what had to be done, and picked me up afterward. There is no way to thank any of them enough for all they have done for me.
A family visit meant switching out the sheets to a whole new set, but I think today, as I prepare for a, hopefully, fresh start in 2017, I will put my favorite set of fresh sheets back on my bed. Maybe, given the current political climate, I should work a little harder on re-learning Russian as well.
It feels like 2016 has been a year of goodbyes and endings: David Bowie, Prince, George Michael, the Obama presidency, etc. Writing a eulogy for the year would seem appropriate. Frankly though, I do not have the heart or stomach for the retrospective. My heart and mind are thoroughly engaged in considering the year ahead.
As I have posted before, each year I choose a word or theme to guide me, 2016’s word was Stewardship. Many times this year it felt like a poorly chosen word, but in the end I think I can see it in my life. While I thought I would use this year to be a good steward of my finances, health, and relationships, the year drug me kicking and screaming into being a steward of myself. It taught me to sit with my emotions, name them, and truly feel them. It forced me to have the courage to listen to my gut, and sometimes the best stewardship is to let something go.
This morning I sat down to brainstorm my theme and word for 2017. You can see my brainstorming starts at a particular place, independence. The word isn’t just a goal I have or a place I want to be. Independence is my state of being. It is where I “Stewarded” myself in 2016.
As I mentioned before, much of what happened this year is, and is not, my story to tell. The consequence of those events though, that is definitely mine to tell, painfully mine to tell. In 2016, I divorced the DH. As with the whole of our marriage, it was fated – full of signs and wonders, quick, and complicated. I’m pretty sure that describes all marriages, but the DH and I have always prided ourselves on our story. The story of our marriage ended this year. The story of my independence began.
This year, 2017, this will be my year of discovery. Discovering who I am, where I want to go, and who I will be. More than vulnerability, more than visibility, more than any of the other words I’ve chosen to guide me over the years, discovery challenges me and frightens me. There is no way to know what lies on the other side of discovery, no way to prepare for it, and that is a vulnerable place for me to be.
I won’t make any promises about how often I will post, or what the content of those posts will be. What I will say is this: Discovery requires exploration, and exploration requires documentation, so maybe there is hope for rejuvenating this space after all.